The Northeast Ohio Usability Professionals Association (NEOUPA) recently put on an event called “Remote usability studies: Get great results while saving time and money“. Quoth Jason Holmes of American Greetings, co-organizer of the event (along with Aaron Rosenberg):
The NEOUPA event was great. Lots of interest, lots of enthusiasm. We had about 45 people there, even though it was our first event ever in Akron. Usually, we’re in Cleveland and have a crowd of regulars that didn’t make the trip south.
And we got a few people a little mad because they thought we were dissing usability labs (which we weren’t doing) but they were threatened. Aaron and I have both worked in several different labs over the years and we’ll continue to do in-person studies, but are big proponents of remotely moderated studies too. I guess we made remote testing sound too good for their liking. Oh well.
As we put on our own remote usability training event (Escape The Lab and User Research Friday), we’ve also found that people accustomed to in-person lab methods can be skeptical about remote studies, often citing the inability to see the users’ facial expressions (an issue we address in our book, and also discussed here). We like riling the lab testing hardliners, even though there’s of course nothing strictly wrong with lab testing—lively debate about the pros / cons of each method is a step in the right direction.